So my buddy Bob and I are in my little car headed up one-way Preble Street, T boning on Congress in downtown Portland last Friday, early afternoon, first at the light to turn left, to head down to the boat show. But the lights are all out-of-whack so when mine is green, my target lane is crammed with cars stopped for their red. There is no room for me to advance, so Bob says, “Let’s go right.”
I pull over to the other lane and the light changes. I stare at the sign that says, “NO RIGHT TURN ON RED.” Bob waves me forward. To my left there is a diagonal car blocking oncoming traffic. “Go, nobody will see you.”
So, I pull out, and two seconds later there is a whoop whoop and a carnival display of alternating flashing high beams and rotating blue and a shiny grill that fills my rear view mirror.
There’s not much room on Congress Street to pull over, but I ease to the curb with him behind me and we are blocking most of our lane.
Bob shakes his head, “No way.”
The cop comes to my window, full of caution, and stands even with the post between the front and back seats. I become a contortionist to get a good look at him. He is all deep blue with lots of dangly chrome and bronze paraphernalia hanging on his chest. His name is Scott McKenna. He is my age, no hat, balding, with an open and friendly face. We are sitting ducks.
“Do you know why I stopped you?”
“Yes sir, I do.”
“May I see your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance?”
My knees are shaking and I cannot shed a crushing guilt complex and my words are getting scrambled in my head before they get to my teeth. I fumble around for the license from my front pocket and the documentation from the glove box.
He looks over my papers. “You’re from Lincolnville.” He looks in the back seat and sees the golf clubs. “Down here to play golf?”
“We played this morning, and now we’re headed to the boat show.”
“I’m working the show tomorrow. Maybe I’ll see you there.”
Things are going well and I get a flash in my head. It’s worked once before. So I blurt this out: “I have a good joke. If I tell it to you and you like it, will you consider giving me a warning?”
Scott stands up straighter and relaxes enough to stand full in the window. “Go for it.”
I’m still nervous and I don’t want to blow it. I take a deep breath.
“There is this guy who’s just bought a brand new Ferrari and he’s been driving around town, doing the legal speed limits and it’s making him crazy, all that performance and power going to waste. He decides to take her out, 3AM Sunday morning, no one on the highway.
He’s out there, no one in sight, and he tags her, gets up to 90 miles an hour and she is sweet. He glances up and there’s a cop car on his tail.
Hey, he thinks, it’s a Ferrari. He punches her up to 120 miles an hour, looks in the mirror, and the cop is still right behind him. Now thinking about all the trouble he’s in, he lets off the gas and coasts into the breakdown lane.
The cop comes up and he’s mad. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Do you have any idea how fast you were going?
The guy wilts. “Yes, officer, I know.”
The policeman takes off his hat and runs a hand through his hair. “Sir, this violation is a felony. I’m at the end of my shift and if I run you in, it’ll take hours of paperwork. Can you give me any reason that you failed to pull over and in fact attempted to out run me?”
The guy looks down on his steering wheel, the little Ferrari emblem, and thinks a second.
“Yes sir, well, last week my wife ran off with a police officer, and I thought you might be trying to bring her back.”
The officer chuckled. “Good one.”
I wait. The officer asks, “Do you have a current registration? This one has expired.”
I’m getting flustered again and my mouth is spitting out fractured words and I bobble through the envelope of important papers.
The officer looks on. “Tell me you’ve got the stickers in there.”
I cannot find a thing. “No, sir. That’s all I have.”
He looks down at me. “And those straps, they’re called seat belts and the law requires that you are buckled up.”
He hands back my paperwork and says, “I want you guys to have a good, responsible weekend. Obey the law and get this car registered when you get home.”
“Thank you officer. I’ll tell my wife that you want us to have a good time.”
“Tell her Officer McKenna says Hi.”